Saturday, August 1, 2009

The Summer of '69

Ahh, yes ... The Summer of '69 ... I remember it well. (Well, sort of ... as the summer drew to a close, I would turn 16, but looking back over some of your memories has inspired a few of my own.)

We all know what Canadian Rocker Bryan Adams was doing that summer ... that was the year he got his first real six-string ... he told ME that he bought it at the five-and-time ... and, as I recall, he played it till his fingers bled ... yes, it was the Summer of '69.

That means Bryan would turn TEN later that year ... so he got a much earlier start on playing music than I did!!! (Personally, I got MY first six-string in 1967 ... inspired by seeing how much fun The Monkees were having every week, I knew that this was something that I wanted to do, too. Notice that I didn't say my first "real" six-string ... the one I bought in '67 was one of those cheap, Japanese jobbers where the strings sat about six feet off the fret board ... lol ... couldn't play it worth a damn which, in hindsight, I realize was only PARTLY my fault ... but I didn't care ... I was makin' music!!! lol)

By February of '68 I'd taken a few guitar lessons ... (let me tell you, I played a MEAN "Rockin' In The Rye"!!!) ... and, later that year, I bought MY first real six-string ... a Gibson ES-335 ... Cherry Red ... a BEAUTIFUL guitar. By then I'd already started writing my own songs and was well on my way to obscurity!!!

We heard from a few other folks on the list who had some personal musical memories circa 1969 ... and we'll be running them sporadically throughout the month of August.

Got some memories to share??? Drop us a line ... we'd LOVE to hear from you! We're looking for a whole lot of audience participation on this one ... so please come reminisce with us!

Hi Kent,
Probably nothing of interest to anyone else, but in looking over my gig history (of which I've compiled a huge amount), '69 was:
1. the first year that I did a Nevada show-group gig (Elko)
2. my first visit back to FL (where I went to high school) since '64
3. when I left the Portraits, after having been with them since 1/64 (before they were called the Portraits)
4. worked a day job (for about 3 months) for the first time since 1961
5. did several gigs with Donnie Brooks (whom I had known since '65), one of which included alternating sets with Nelson Riddle's orchestra
6. did some gigs with Chuck Higgnins ("Pachucko Hop")
7. also played in Kentucky and ran into an old Milwaukee musician friend
8. was on one show mc'ed by Wolfman Jack
Gary E. Myers / MusicGem

Late in the Summer of '69 I sang in a rock band in front of a live audience for the very first time in my life. It was also our first PAYING gig so it was quite the memorable, pressure-filled night. I had put together a band in our basement that consisted of my brother Mark (who today is facing those medical challenges we told you about a month or two ago ... he's holding steady right now, by the way, for those of you who have asked) on his maroon solid-body Gibson SG and a drummer named Jimmy Gilsdorf. We had never played outside our own basement before ... entertained at a couple of birthday and / or graduation parties ... but that was pretty much the extent of it. We only did instrumentals ... things like "Walk Don't Run" and "Wipe Out" and instrumental versions of other hits and classics ... like "Sleep Walk" and "My Bonnie" and "Rockin' In The Rye", of course ... and that was about it. Were we any good? Let's just say that NO ONE will EVER accuse me of being a lead guitarist!!! (lol)

But in the Summer of '69, one of my best friends in High School said that his brother was in charge of hiring the entertainment for an upcoming hay ride and wanted to know if we would play. Geez ... a REAL job?!?!? In front of people?!?!? I wasn't sure if we were ready for THAT!!! (We weren't ... it was flat-out awful!!!) Anyway, I figured we'd better learn a couple of hit songs that were on the charts right now ... so we quickly added "Bad Moon Rising" and "Honky Tonk Women" to our repertoire, featuring ME on lead vocals on both. (Two of the biggest songs of the Summer of '69, by the way, and the first two songs I ever sang live in public! In fact, I think I sang each of them three or four times that night ... we probably had about twenty minutes of material TOTAL as a band ... and had to play three forty-minute sets ... so we repeated stuff ... a LOT!!! lol) We couldn't honor ANY of their requests ... couldn't play anything more challenging than that which I've just described ... and it was, without question, the WORST live performance by ANY band EVER!!! Incredibly, they still paid us ... but by the time we all got home that night, we just wanted to quit, figuring we had absolutely NO business whatsoever in the rock arena. (Truthfully, we stunk SO bad that I wasn't even sure they'd let us sit in the audience watching somebody ELSE perform!!!) It was, POSITIVELY, the worst performance EVER ... and that includes playing at a bar several years later when the owner came up to us on the stage and offered to pay us $200 if we'd "stop playing right now"!!! (lol) kk

1969: Keep those memories coming, folks ... we'll run them interspersed throughout the entire month of August ... and on ANY variety of topics ... so don't be shy!!! Movies??? TV??? Politics??? The Moon Landing??? Charles Manson??? Chappaquiddick??? Woodstock??? Sesame Street??? Let us hear from you!!!

CALLING ALL METS FANS: We need to hear from a couple of 1969 "Miracle Mets" Fans who watched their team go from Worst To First that year. We've got LOTS of Cubs fans on the list ... and we all remember the heartbreak they caused us here in Chicago that summer. (In fact, some of us were petitioning newly elected President Richard Nixon to declare the team a national disaster in an effort to wipe out the entire season!!!) So Mets Fans, let's hear from you!!!

A SPECIAL FORGOTTEN HITS GIVE-AWAY: And, as an added bonus, we'll be giving away a copy of the brand new "Time Magazine" 40th Anniversary Special that THEY put together remembering 1969. It's a BEAUTIFUL book chock full of photographs and memories recalling the end of the decade. Vote for YOUR favorite bits and pieces throughout the month and, when it's all over, we'll award a copy to one winner ... so get your story in AND qualify to win a copy of this collectors' book!